There are those in the world who take the view that reality depends on the way in which man interprets it. For such reality-things seen, touched, felt, the world around each human being- are the consequence of what man has in his head. There are others who take the view that reality exists and that man forms part of reality. It is not what he has in his head that defines his reality, but reality itself that defines man, (Amilcar Cabral, UNITY AND STRUGGLE)
In the days of old when we did A’Level General paper, the above quotation could have been a question to be answered by candidates. Candidates could have been asked to discuss it. Realities, in my view are part of us as human beings but critical thinkers can change their realities for the better while foolish people can change their reality into very negative conditions. At the individual levels, some were born into wealthy families where life of luxury was theirs for the asking. Some changed their reality in life of luxury into life of poverty and misery.
Our reality as Ghanaians has moved from positive to extreme negative over the last 62 years when we proudly proclaimed that we were going to prove to the world that ‘after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs’. Today, one can conveniently say, but to the chagrin of those who don’t want to accept their reality, that many black people or leaders are incapable of managing their own affairs positively.
Over the past few days, some issues have cropped up in this country (so many crop up on an hourly basis anyway) that has set my mind unease. First is the issue concerning Mr. Mahama Ayariga, a Member of Parliament for Bawku Central who was supposed to appear before a High Court in Accra, was using technicalities and constitutional provisions to challenge the ‘legality of his invitation’ by the Court.
Flowing from this, a number of articles from the Constitution of the Fourth Republic have been quoted to either support the position of Mr. Ayariga or challenge it. The debates on the legality or propriety to serve or invite a Member of Parliament to a Court of competent jurisdiction have been cited from Articles 117-122. The most quoted article in this case is the 122 which reads ‘An act or omission which obstructs or impedes a member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties, or affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce that result, is contempt of Parliament’.
My ordinary understanding of the above is that so long as the Member of Parliament is on his way to Parliament no obstruction or impediment must be placed in his way. Extreme traffic on his way to Parliament is an obstruction and is therefore contemptuous of the MP. If he recklessly hits my car on his way to Parliament, I have no right to halt his movement for the Police to come and assess the situation because it would be contemptuous of Parliament.
An MP, by the article above, can kill and seek succour and solace under the article because he will be on his way to Parliament to discharge his duties as an MP. Today, we have well -furnished offices for Parliamentarians around Parliament House itself. An MP who wants to evade the law can stay in his office and walk down to Parliament house every day and anyone who tries to serve him impedes or obstructs the MP, and that is contemptuous in this time and age.
While we are told that any such services to the MP must be rooted through the Speaker of Parliament, where in the world of real democracy is an MP insulated in that manner. I need education. That we the ordinary mortals of this country can be dragged sometimes in the most dehumanizing forms to face the law even when our guilt has not been established. Those our votes have made super humans are protected and any act that is not channeled through the Speaker is a criminal act?
Wait oo, I still need more education. There are a number of Parliamentarians who are lawyers and who go to the Courts to either defend their clients or institute legal actions against individuals or organisations on behalf of their clients. Their absence from Parliament does not constitute an obstruction or an impediment to their functions as MPs. It is only when they are alleged or suspected to have broken the laws of this country that any attempt to bring them to justice requires a special dispensation else an act of contempt is committed. That is the reality of our Ghana today.
The complexity of our reality today is also the call by ex-President Jerry John Rawlings for us to try to remove the indemnity clause in our Fourth Republican Constitution which in his view, gives protection to some public officers, particularly politicians, to commit some crimes against the state and get away with it.
As far as my reading of the Constitution goes, it is only the President of the Republic who is indemnified while in office or three years after office. These are found in Article 57 (5 and 6) where the President (5) ‘shall not, while in office as President, be personally liable to any civil or criminal proceedings in court. Clause (6) of the article also states ‘Civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person within three years after his ceasing to be President, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him in his personal capacity before or during his term of office notwithstanding any period of limitation except where the proceedings had been legally barred before he assumed the office of President’
The next most important portion of the constitution in relation to the call by former President Rawlings has got to do with the Transitional provisions of the Constitution. These were all tailored to protect former President Rawlings; there is no doubt about that. So if today, he is calling for their removal in order to rein in on corrupt and criminally minded public officers from whichever divide of the political aisle, we need to take the call seriously. I am sure he might be looking at article 122 and other related articles in the constitution which gives protection to a section of the society. We are unduly protecting and pampering our political office holders to our collective detriment. That is our reality.
A 20-foot monument, immortalizing the memory of the late Major Maxwell Mahama who was brutally murdered at Denkyira Obuasi in the Central Region by people who are yet to be determined by the courts of our land. The gentleman was serving his nation in the fight against illegal mining which has destroyed our nation’s beautiful forests and river bodies.
My worry is that, since his death, the problem he was helping to address and which brought about his untimely death has not abated. The perpetrators are at their destructive best, including foreigners we can’t even prosecute for breaching our laws. In other jurisdictions, the death of Major Mahama would have spurred the nation on to unleash a fresh attack on the menace and root it out in his memory. We have failed miserably in our case.
By our inability to fight illegal mining successfully, are we not concretizing a view by some that Ghana is not worth dying for? And why the monument in Accra and not Denkyira Obuasi to remind the people there that mob actions are not just bad but criminal? I am just asking questions.
Daavi, just three tots